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The 100




Top Dog
(1995)
Reviewed by Chris Edwards
Rating: 3 Beans

wasn't going to bother with this one. After all, there's not much chance of a discerning individual actually renting a movie that has Chuck Norris, a dog, and a police badge on the cover. I didn't seek it out myself, just chanced across it, and thought it was bad, but not really Bad Movie Night bad. But in the last ten minutes or so, "Top Dog" did something that changed my mind. I'll explain in a minute.

First, the formalities. "Top Dog" is a very belated entry in the cop-and-dog movie genre. This time the cop who gets paired with the dog is Chuck Norris, so there's more kicking in this one than in "Turner and Hooch." The plot deals with Chuck's struggle to overcome his anti-dog feelings in time to bust a gang of neo-Nazis bent on destroying a unity conference. The neo-Nazi part is kind of heavy for the cute dog part, which makes this an odd movie. It's quite a bit too violent for young children, with a PG-13 rating. But only young kids would be entertained by the dog's cute hijinx. And that's the size of it-derivative, simplistic, and utterly forgettable, a one bean movie at best.

EXCEPT for that one thing that I mentioned, the thing that made me want to put "Top Dog" on this page. At the film's climax, a bishop (I think, he had a bishop-looking hat) and some other dignitaries are stuck inside a car with a bomb attatched. Chuck slides under the car, checks out the bomb and says, "There's two wires here, a red one and a blue one."

ARRRRRGHH! Is it just me? Or is everybody sick to death of the "ticking timebomb with two colored wires" bit? How many times has this been done? Sometimes it's more wires, sometimes it's different colors. Inevitably, the person pulling the wire asks another person which one to pull, then pulls the other one, with 00:01 to spare. "The Shadow" introduced the idea of having the defuser be color-blind. But no matter what, the right wire is pulled, the bomb goes dead, and we're A-OK. Unless there's a building or other structure to blow up, in which case the heroes run to safety about ten feet from an enormous explosion. This has got to rank with "grab my hand, I'll pull you up" and "you won't shoot, you have to arrest me-BLAM!" among endlessly repeated movie cliches.

Does it even make sense? For one thing, why are they pulling wires? Does the bomb have no other components to disable? Usually the bomb's hidden somewhere, it's not meant to be defuse-proof. Sometimes it is, though. Sometimes we're told, "If we cut the wrong one, it'll go off instantly." That makes it trickier, huh? Well, you're gonna pull one anyway, so get to it. Don't wait til 00:03. Pull a wire. If nothing happens, pull another one. The worst that can happen is the bomb goes off, and since you can only guess, it won't be your fault. Quit biting your lip and pull the damn wire.

And if you were making bombs, would you make the ignition dependant on one scrawny wire? Wouldn't you at least tuck the wires away somplace so they're harder to get to? I mean, if you have a stick of TNT, a digital clock, and two wires in front of you, you can guess the weak link. If nothing else, I'd put a whole bunch of extra wires on there to slow 'em down.

Another thing- It's kind of conventional that if you have two wires, the "hot" or live one is red. Not that that's a hard and fast rule, and a clever bomber could certainly switch around. Still, if I had to guess which wire was the detonator wire, I'd yank the red one, if only because it seems like you'd have some odds in your favor.

And just one time, I'd like to see the heroes sweat, and deliberate, and allllmost pull one and then pull the other-and get blown to hell-and-gone for their troubles. I think we need that.

The big thing, though, is just that it's tired. The "which wire?" game has turned up in movies and TV shows time and time again. It's a cheap way of milking some suspense out of a scene, rather than just finding the bomb and turning it off. But I think it's time to find some new methods for doing that, and consign this old dud to the ammo dump. Seeing it trotted out again in "Top Dog," I immediately felt like the writer wasn't even trying.

So I'll bump "Top Dog" up by a couple of beans to three. Funny how one little thing can make a plain old bad movie into a real source of irritation.

One more thought-Does anybody know what movie originated the "which wire" gag? I wouldn't be surprised if it were a silent.






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